A window into the life of a professional geek, wife and mother (and nonni), stitcher/designer, bibliophile, old-school gamer, and whatever other roles she finds herself in.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Shenandoah dreamin' on such a summer's day...

We had a wonderful time in Virginia. The weather was nice - degree-wise, not any cooler than here, but the humidity level (and probably the elevation as well) made quite a difference. Certainly the amount of sun was a factor - I was probably outdoors more last week than I've been the rest of the year, and all I have is a very mild sunburn - about what I'd get in only 10-15 minutes down here.

Sunday we arrived, and after spending much of the day with my folks, we drove to the resort. We'd had to get up at 5am to make our flight, so Monday was spent in relaxation. We went to one of the pools for a bit, and I tried a sauna for the first time. I will certainly never compare Florida to a sauna again - I could handle the heat at first, but once someone added water to the hot rocks, I felt as though my lungs were on fire! I made my retreat and didn't go back in.

Tuesday we drove up to Gettysburg, being in 4 states over the 3 hour drive. I've been to Gettysburg before, but it is a rather large battlefield and even after this trip I don't think I've seen all of it. Rural Pennsylvania in the mountains is quite beautiful, and history aside, I enjoyed being in the countryside. We did the standard driving tour, and got out and walked parts of it, including climbing to the top of Big Round Top. It was a bit of a steep climb, and the ground was very rocky, so I certainly got my exercise! After touring the field, we went to a nice colonial tavern, Dobbin House, for dinner. Excellent food - I highly recommend it if you're in the area!

We got back from Gettysburg just before midnight, so Wednesday was more relaxation (which is, after all, the whole point of a vacation). DsD and DsS went on a trail ride, while DD got a pony ride (she was too little for the trail), but mostly we hung out and played cards or read.

Wednesday night was the weekly Winemaker's Dinner hosted by the resort. When one thinks of American wine, Virginia is not the first place that comes to mind, but it is very good wine country with a lot of nice little vineyards and some rather wonderful wines. Every week, the resort invites a different local winery to pair wines with dishes the chef prepares. This time, First Colony had the honor. The dishes were delicious and the wines were very good, although two of the five featured wines were chardonnays, of which I am not a fan. I tend more toward Rieslings, myself.

Thursday we walked up one of the trails on the mountain for a bit. I'm not exactly in the best of shape, but the view was nice, and we found a large patch of raspberries and indulged ourselves a little. I *love* raspberries and blackberries, and the taste of wild berries was more than worth the scratches I got for my troubles. I could certainly see myself living up there, especially if I had enough land to have a lot of berries!

Friday was another outdoor activity day. DH stayed behind to work on a paper for this theology class while the kids and I went to check out a rock wall - DsD had done one before, but it was a new experience for the rest of us. DD did quite well for her first time, and got about halfway, which was more than I did. I didn't exactly have the best shoes for it - all I'd brought was a pair of generic leather sandals, which I put many miles on in Italy last year. I might have done better on the rock wall barefoot, but they wouldn't let me. My hands got a bit stiff and cramped in my laughable first attempt, but I had fun just the same. After that, we went on the ski lift, which runs several times a week during the summer to take folks up near the top of the mountain for the scenic view. It was quite impressive, but on the way down a storm blew in, and *right after* (maybe 20 seconds) we got off back at the bottom of the lift, lightning struck one of the lift towers. Nobody was hurt, thank God, but a couple of family groups were trapped on the lift for a while. I actually saw the strike and heard a loud *POP* - we got very lucky, but the whole event was a little unnerving.

We also did another trail ride - I borrowed a pair of DH's shoes so I could go riding as well, while he and DD stayed back at the stables and did crafts and a mini-trail ride. DD had a blast, and really seems to like riding. We went to a local barbecue place, Hank's Smokehouse, for dinner. They had very good ribs! They also had a sauce called "juniper sauce" which contained malt vinegar, juniper berries and such, which seemed rather strange but was very good on fries. Another place worth checking out if you're in the area!

Saturday we drove up to Antietam (in Sharpsburg, MD) to tour the battlefield there. It was a beautiful day, and more beautiful countryside. We were lucky enough to catch a reenactment group, the 23rd Virginia Infantry, and watched their firing demonstration. I'd never seen live Civil War reenactors before, so it was a lot of fun. We also passed by a History Channel film crew as well, which was pretty cool.

Sunday we visited my parents for a bit, then flew home.

I read two books during the trip: Sarah Zettel's _The Firebird's Vengeance_, the third in her Isavalta trilogy (fantasy with borrowings from Russian and Asian mythology - certainly a pleasant read), and Ken Follett's _The Pillars of the Earth_, detailing the lives and events of a group of people involved in building a cathedral. I finished _Pillars_ on the plane last night, and quite enjoyed it. I was mildly surprised that timeframe-wise, it covered some of the same period in English history as another book I finished a week ago, Penman's _Time and Chance_. Different perspective, though. Instead of seeing things from the level of the major players in a succession war, in _Pillars_ one sees the effects on the average joe. Very good book, it was recommended highly to me, and I'm glad to pass along the suggestion. I do have to agree with a friend of mine, though, who said that he enjoyed it and the history was sound, but he found it 'a bit sex-obsessed'. There were certainly a few scenes that were more explicit than I personally care for, but that seems to be a trend nowadays.

I started the new Harry Potter book, but since I'm still playing "post-vacation catch-up", I haven't gotten very far.

So that was my week, which was everything a vacation should be - relaxing, fun, with good food and good company. DD started back to school yesterday, so it's back to the grind!

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